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Resumes and Cover Letters

Preparing a dynamic resume and cover letter can set you on the right track to getting that "dream job". Although there is not one way to write these documents, your job is to present yourself in such a way that makes you stands out from the rest.


The goal of your resume is to effectively communicate your qualifications to prospective employers. In many cases your resume will determine whether or not you are granted an interview. The resume by itself, however, will not get you a job. If it gets you in the door, then it has served its purpose.

Basic Tips

  • Resume is no more than one page
  • Margins are within a reasonable range (.5'-1" all around)
  • Standard font (Times New Roman, Arial, Sans Serif, etc.)
  • Proper use of tenses – current jobs/present tense, previous jobs that ended/past tense
  • Dates are in reverse chronological order (most recent to least recent) under each section
  • Appropriate font - size or style 10-12 (your name can be larger)
  • Effective use of space - Not too little/ too much white space
  • Clear headers
  • Format is clean and consistent, easy to read and all information can be easily found at a glance
  • Avoid overuse of lines, boxes, borders
  • “References available upon request” should not be on the resume
  • Avoid errors, proofread thoroughly

What to include

  • Name, Address (local and/or permanent), Phone Number, Email
  • Objective (optional)—What is your job objective for this resume (e.g., paralegal, editor, finance intern)?
  • Education—List the schools you attended (with dates, degrees, honors), classes you have completed that are relevant to your objective (you may want to describe any special projects, papers, or presentations that were part of your coursework). You may want to include your GPA if it is over 3.0.
  • Experience—List the positions you have held (include paid, volunteer, and intern positions). Keep in mind, you do not need to list every job you have ever held; you only need to list the experiences that are relevant to the position. Arrange these in reverse chronological order and for each position, ask yourself:
    • What were my major accomplishments? (if possible, quantify)
    • What were my main responsibilities?
    • What skills did I acquire, improve, utilize?
    • What special knowledge did I gain?
  • Activities (optional)—Were you a member of any clubs? What about other on- or off-campus organizations (e.g., fraternities, student publications, charitable groups, etc.)? Were you a member of any athletic teams? Were you elected or appointed as an officer of a club organization? Describe your accomplishments in the above activities.
  • Skills (optional)—What skills do you possess (e.g., language ability, computer skills, and other technical skills)?
  • Interests (optional)—What do you like to do outside of work and school? Are you a weekend athlete or a midnight Mozart? Be specific.

Cover Letters

The cover letter is your opportunity to shine by filling in the blanks from your resume. A well-written cover letter can pique the curiosity of the employer and motivate him/her to carefully read your resume. Be sure to include a cover letter every time you send a resume.

Basic Tips

Tailor your letters to the specific organization and responsibilities of the position. A generic cover letter offers little value to a potential employer. Your cover letter should be 3-4 paragraphs long, and should describe your interest in the position and your candidacy.

Your introduction should answer the following:

  • For what position are you applying?
  • How did you hear about it (e.g., through a friend, an ad, Career Services, etc.)?
  • What is/was your major and degree?
  • What is/was your graduation date?

The body of the letter is your sales pitch:
This is where you need to describe your strengths (specific skills, personal attributes, experience) and relate them to the requirements of the position. You may emphasize some items from your resume, but try not to be too redundant. Use specific examples from your academic or work experience that address the employer's stated requirements. Be sure to thoroughly research the employer. Your letter should show that you are a “good fit” with the mission and culture of the organization.

The final paragraph:
Close by requesting an interview. Lastly, always thank the employer for his/her consideration and mention that you are looking forward to hearing from them.

Thank You Letters

Send a thank you letter to everyone who interviews you. The letter is an opportunity to reiterate your interest in the position and to show your appreciation for the interviewer's time. This will also contribute to your leaving a positive impression with the employer. The letter should be brief, only 2-3 paragraphs, and should be sent within 48 hours of the actual interview. You should also send thank you letters to anyone who has assisted you with your job search.

Emphasize the skills that you have and demonstrate how they relate to the position. Remember to state what you can do for the organization, as opposed to what the organization can do for you. Additionally, you may want to remind the reader of an important point you made in the interview or mention something you may have neglected to discuss in the interview.

Attend a Resumes & Cover Letters that Work Seminar







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